In the local preservation world in ANY region, it seems there are often more sad stories about the buildings lost than happy ones…but here is a very happy one indeed. In our local wonderful Bush’s Pasture Park stands the amazing Bush House Museum. Behind the museum (another story for another day) is the small and wonderful conservatory, built by Mr. Bush in the 1880’s for his daughter Sally, who lived in the house and used the conservatory actively until her death in the 1940’s. The house came into the public domain and has been run as a house museum since the 1950’s…owned by the city and run by the Salem Art Association, filled with the family’s furniture and belongings. The conservatory consisted of a brick foundation with an iron framework and glass panes, and after more than a hundred years it was showing its age:
It was in active use by the amazing group FOBG (Friends of Bush Gardens). Still though, it was becoming dangerous…
it was leaking and things were falling (miraculously not on anybody’s head), it was wrapped in plastic
so a decision was made to close it to the public and try and raise the $250,000 needed to rebuild the structure…
and this intrepid band of gardeners proceeded to have teas, tours, meetings and do a little arm-twisting until the miracle happened…they had the money in hand!
A tent was erected over the building and a big fence placed around it, the building was carefully taken apart…new “old” bricks were found for the rebuilt foundation, some new structural members were added, the glass was painstakingly washed by the FOBG crew,
and last week the work was finished. The tent came down, the conservatory is all ready for the hardy gardeners to move back in and care for plants, propagate plants (we have a New Dawn rose in our garden from a Bush Garden clipping). And, in our park is this little glowing gem…better go take a look at a real success story!